LGBTQIA+ Activism and Uplifting the Pursuit for Equality and Fundamental Rights

Under the Trump Administration these past four years, the bold advances that women have made over the past decades, particularly those of our Black, Indigenous, Women of Color, Latinx, trans, and gender non-conforming relatives, have come under threat of regressing. We know the first 100 days are crucial in setting the tone and establishing priorities for any administration. This is why during this time, the National Organization for Women (NOW) and Black Women’s Blueprint will be bringing these voices to the forefront as part of a listening and discussion series, to share the issues that matter most to us – and the issues we need the Biden-Harris Administration to prioritize as part of a feminist agenda. As part of this series, we’re pulling together big ideas from these sessions for NOW’s blog Say It Sister! in order to share the changes we need to see and policies we need to fight for all-in-one place. The next step after listening is doing. 

Beginning with opening remarks from Congresswoman Sharice Davids, the event this week engaged feminist leaders from around the country in a critical discussion on the advancement of LGBTQIA+ voices in activism. Our empowering panelists were Charlotte Clymer, a transgender activist, writer, communications consultant, and military veteran. Before serving in her current post as the Director of Communications and Strategy for Catholics for Choice, Charlotte worked as the Press Secretary for the rapid response unit of the Human Rights Campaign, an organization dedicated to amplifying the voices of the LGBTQIA+ community. Our panel also included Rodrigo Velasquez, an activist and legislative aide in the Virginia House of Delegates and Board Member of Just Neighbors. He strives to create community action and advocate for the immigrant and undocumented community. Our third panelist was Ericka Dixon. Ericka is the Training Programs Manager at New York City Anti-Violence. She creates programming, resources, and a network for anti-violence in the LGBTQIA+ and HIV-affected communities. Ericka also serves on the advisory board of the Disability Project as part of the Transgender Community Law Center, and she is a former SVSH activist with Black Women’s Blueprint. Below are the main topics and policy agendas discussed throughout the event:   

  •  Reflection and Allyship: The panel opened with a discussion of the recent anti-trans bills coming out of states explicitly targeting transgender girls and women and their access to sports and gender-affirming healthcare. Panelists noted that we must view these bills in their transphobic and racist context and the systematic ways in which the United States has policed and criminalized Black and Brown bodies. The panelists called for allies to better educate themselves about the LGBTQIA+ communities and greater awareness for the systematic ways they are exposed to violence. Further, they reminded us that mental health is a serious issue in this community. We must check in on our LGBTQIA+ friends and remember to build community.   
  • Policy Change: Below is a list of the policy changes the panelists called upon to uplift the pursuit for equity and fundamental rights in the LGBTQIA+ community:  
    • Demand that LGBTQIA+ people who are immigrants are released from detention facilities.  
    • Lobby the White House to set up a task force on violence against trans people.   
    • End solitary confinement sentences in prisons.   
    • Update laws as they relate to prostituted persons and decriminalize the act of providing sexual acts for wages.    
    • End qualified immunity for police officers, so they do not get a pass when they commit Civil Rights abuses.  
    • Empower workers to organize and have the power to fight back against discriminatory policies and toxic work culture.   
    • End “Right to Work” so individuals will not fear losing employment for undisclosed reasons if they chose to share their gender or sexual identity.  
  • How You Can Help: The panelists called for individuals to continue phone banking, calling representatives from every state, getting LGBTQIA+ information and resources to the public, making personal connections with people about how harmful anti-trans legislation is, and follow activists and lawyers that are tracking the anti-trans bills around the country. They also encouraged allies to continue building up coalitions and movements of support. Lastly, they reminded us of the importance of empowering members of the LGBTQIA+ community to run for office by donating to LGBTQIA+ candidates and organizations seeking to achieve this goal. The panelists named the Victory Fund and Black Trans Travel Fund as a few critical organizations to support.   

You can watch a recording of the full event here

Check out future events in this series here

Harmony Bulloch, NOW President’s Office Intern  

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